Wisdom Teeth

By the age of 18, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine, and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth (molar teeth) are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing.

The average mouth only has room for 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that only holds 28 teeth. These four other teeth are your third molars, also known as “wisdom teeth.”

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. When they align properly and gum tissue is healthy, wisdom teeth do not have to be removed. Unfortunately, this does not generally happen. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary when they are prevented from properly erupting within the mouth. They may grow sideways, partially emerge from the gum and even remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway that will allow them to successfully erupt.

These poorly positioned impacted teeth can cause many problems. When they are partially erupted, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and will eventually cause an infection. The result: inflammation, swelling, stiffness, pain and illness. The pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. Another common problem is the damage to the teeth immediately next to the wisdom teeth (the second molars) in the form of gum disease, decay or erosion. The most serious problem occurs when tumors or cysts form around the impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in the destruction of the jawbone and healthy teeth. Removal of the offending impacted teeth usually resolves these problems. Early removal is recommended to avoid such future problems and to decrease the surgical risk involved with the procedure.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

Oral Examination

With an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, Dr. Wallis can evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and predict if there are present or may be future problems. Studies have shown that early evaluation and treatment result in a superior outcome for the patient. Patients are generally first evaluated in the mid-teenage years by their dentist, orthodontist or by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

All outpatient surgery is performed under appropriate anesthesia to maximize patient comfort. Dr. Wallis has the training, license and experience to provide various types of anesthesia for patients to select the best alternative.

Surgery

In most cases, the removal of wisdom teeth is performed under IV anesthesia with supplemental local anesthesia. These options, as well as the surgical risks (i.e., sensory nerve damage, sinus complications), will be discussed with you before the procedure is performed. Once the teeth are removed, the gum will be sutured if needed. To help control bleeding, gauze is placed in your mouth over the surgical site. As you bite down on this it will put pressure on the surgical area and this will stop the bleeding and help blood clots form.  You will rest under our supervision in the office until you are ready to be taken home. Upon discharge, your postoperative kit will include postoperative instructions, a prescription for pain medication and extra gauze. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at Big Sky Oral and Facial Surgery Phone Number 406-585-1120.

Our services are provided in an environment of optimum safety that utilizes modern monitoring equipment and staff who are experienced in anesthesia techniques.

What To Expect After

What people experience after wisdom tooth removal can be as varied as people themselves, but most people will have discomfort that requires the use of oral pain medicines and will experience swelling. The swelling usually begins after surgery and then continues to come up for 2 to 3 days at which point it peaks and then gets gradually better each day.  The pain generally starts to improve after the first 2 to 3 days as well. It is generally a gradual process of improvement after the 3rd day.  The jaw may be stiff and hard to open wide as well.  This too tends to gradually improve after day 3.

If you follow the post-operative instructions as they are given to you, this will help to smooth out your recovery as much as possible.  Please refer to the instructions here.

If you have any questions, please call us at Big Sky Oral and Facial Surgery Phone Number 406-585-1120.